Hornby currently makes two main ranges of British outline RTR models, the standard range aimed at serious hobbyists and collectors, and the Railroad range of less detailed models aimed at the budget market. Hornby also make a wide range of scenic accessories including the Skaledale resin-cast building range, and a number of themed train sets including Flying Scotsman, Thomas the Tank Engine and Harry Potter.
Issues for the modellerEdit
Hornby models are generally well made and god value for money, with spares being readily available at reasonable cost. Large retailers are given much more discount than smaller retailers, so specialist local model shops will not be able to match internet and large store prices, but will typically have a better range and will usually offer after-sales service such as adding DCC chips and motor brush replacement.
Some Hornby models are relatively old designs and lack detail, and some use older style motors, but many of the new models are very fine and are powered by can motors with flywheels and gear towers. The budget Railroad range includes some older model designs which have been replaced by newer, better designs. Hornby tends to set its OO wheels at 14.2mm back-to-back instead of the standard 14.8mm. Newer wheels can be reset easily.
Older horby models have a coarser profile of wheel, and some models advertised as Hornby on eBay are in fact Tri-Ang and have solid axles. Hornby rolling stock with needle axles can be re-wheeled using their current metal-cast wheels, which are widely available in blister packs of ten axles. The older wheels run better on older rails and tight curves, the newer wheels are substantially better on Peco or other current production OO rails.
Hornby's models change significantly with time. If buying second-hand, always check precisely which version of the model you are buying and what type of motor. For example, the latest loco drive A3 pacific is a vastly better runner than the older tender drive model and the new Railroad range 9F is loco drive, whereas the previous full-price model was tender drive and so offered insufficient traction given the duty of the prototype.